NC invades Amazon’s back yard in pitch for HQ2

North Carolina is reaching all the way across the country to promote its bid to land Amazon’s second headquarters, with advertisements running on city buses in the company’s own backyard of Seattle.

The series of bus ads that began circulating earlier this month promote North Carolina’s “firsts” beyond its best-known claim to have been first in flight – such as the first public university, first state-funded art museum, and invention of the prosthetic hand with individual finger control, the “Ctrl-Alt-Del” reboot computer command, and the bar code.

The bus ads are part of a broader campaign to attract businesses, including Amazon, called N.C. Next Firsts. The state commerce department and the Economic Development Partnership of N.C. are spending about $92,000 on the campaign, which includes digital ads, social media, public relations and T-shirts.

Amazon is promising to spend $5 billion and employ 50,000 people over time at the location chosen for a second headquarters. More than 200 proposals have been submitted from state, regional and local hopefuls. Amazon says a selection will be made next year. The company was expected to release a short list of its finalists on Friday, Dec. 1, but The Charlotte Observer reported on Tuesday that the large number of proposals now made that timetable unrealistic, and it would be early 2018 before cities would learn if they were still in the running.

Four proposals have come from North Carolina: the Triangle, Charlotte region, Triad and Hickory. The N.C. Next Firsts drive is meant to benefit communities across the state by using the Amazon momentum to draw attention to the state’s attractions.

The state is trying to generate Facebook, Twitter (#NCNextFirsts) and other social media traffic by asking people to upload a photo or video with their own impressions of North Carolina firsts. T-shirts will be given out at random to those who use that hashtag, or they can be purchased at T-shirt sales benefit the state’s science, math and technology education center.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO

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